In December 2022, the creation of a new woman’s professional soccer was announced by Christine Sinclair and Diana Matheson – with Matheson herself having close ties with Project 8 Sports who will be heavily invested in the project. It is looking likely that 2025 will be the target starting year for the league.
That’s a long way away still, but it’s fun to speculate about the makeup of what the league will look like. We know at this point that Vancouver and Calgary will have teams in the league, so while we wait for 2025 – lets speculate on the other six potential teams for the new league.
Saskatchewan has played its part in growing the sport in Canada. It is the home of Kelly Parker, Kaylyn Kyle, Jannie Beckie (by way of her family – she was born in Colorado), and Joan McEachern, all four of whom have represented Canada at the World Cup. There certainly is no shortage of role models and ex-players who can be brought on board at a hypothetical Saskatoon team.
Saskatchewan outfit LSSE is actively trying to build a soccer stadium to attract a CPL team, the prospect of another permanent tenant would mean more match days and revenue-making opportunities, which would help make the stadium proposal (hopefully) and an easier sell to the city of Saskatoon. It would certainly be in LSSE’s best interest to invest/work with a Saskatoon Women’s professional soccer team, and the famed passionate Saskatchewan fans would be a welcomed edition to the new league.
Home of eleven World Cup games in 2015, Edmonton is now the biggest city in Canada without a professional soccer team and what is the CPL’s loss, could be this new leagues gain.
A city and fanbase that is now suddenly without a team could once again have something to be excited about. We can only hope though that any future team in Edmonton can learn from the mistakes of FC Edmonton.
On the surface, this is a bold and head-scratching choice, but Barrie is home to League 1 Ontario’s Simcoe County Rovers – a team with ambition. The ownership includes many current and former Canadian internationals including Janine Beckie, Doneil Henry, Atiba Hutchinson, Julian de Guzman and Cyle Larin. If Simcoe were serious about having a team in the league, they would have some serious clout into bring to the table.
Their womens team in 2021 was one of the best teams in League 1 Ontario, finishing fifth and going an impressive 12-5-2 on the season and had an enthusiastic support throughout the season. Simcoe County has a population of 533,169, which is bigger than Saskatoon and Halifax. Provided they could have a sizeable stadium in place, this could be a unsuspected success story for the new league.
S. 2 Ep. 21: Canada Doing What Canada Does – FC13 Podcast
We have precedent for the sport in Ottawa. From 2000 to 2014 the Ottawa Fury ran a woman’s team which played in the USL W-League. They were successful on the pitch, winning ten division titles, three conference titles, and the USL W-League championship in 2012. Dianne Matheson – the face of the new league also has ties to Ottawa, it seems like a slam dunk that a team will come to Ottawa.
TD Place stadium is a very busy stadium these days with the Ottawa Redblacks, Atletico Ottawa, and the Ottawa Gee-Gees all playing games there as of 2022. The Fury used to play at Carleton University’s TAAG Park, and could be utilized once again for the new Ottawa team if necessary.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
After four CPL seasons, it’s clear to see that Halifax is a massive success story for the league, with the Halifax faithful arguably being the most passionate in the league. Seeing soccer and soccer culture grow is exciting, and if he fantastic to see the new league get in on the feel good soccer story in Halifax.
In a similar story to Saskatoon, HFX is actively looking to get a new stadium built, and what better way to christen the new stadium with not one, but two professional soccer teams in Halifax? But even if that is still years down the pipeline, there can be no worry that the Wanderers Ground would welcome a professional woman’s team with open arms.
Last but not least is the second largest city in Canada, Montreal. Like Edmonton, Montreal’s Olympic Stadium was heavily used at the World Cup and did attract massive crowds of 45,410 and 51,176. Montreal is a famously passionate city when it comes to sports, with the infusion of French culture always a welcomed addition to any Canadian league.
The 19,600-capacity soccer-specific Stade Saputo has hosted CWNT games before, including as recently as October 2021 against New Zealand, it would be the perfect stadium for a potential new team, and hopefully, the fans would get to ring the 1642 Bell many times while watching a Montreal woman’s team.
Addressing the GTA sized elephant in the room.
You’re all probably wondering why I haven’t included Toronto on this list. It seems like the number one obvious choice, it’s by far the biggest city in Canada, and has representation in all aspects of sports in North America. But being so involved in sports all across the continent is the problem. The question isn’t if I want a Toronto team in this league, the question is if MLSE wants a team.
MLSE own the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts, and Toronto Raptors, they have massive pockets, practically all Toronto sports go through them (besides the Toronto Blue Jays), and would be a welcomed addition to a woman’s league. But MLSE has a poor track record in woman’s sports, there is no woman’s equivalent of the Raptors, Leaf’s or TFC and there is always the rumors and speculation about Toronto deciding to bid for an NWSL team. There is also the issue of the stadium. Hosting the Argos and TFC is very demanding on BMO Field, and even if a third team’s fixture could be fit, the pitch would be in a bad way.
A new Toronto soccer stadium is being built for York United, I fully believe that if Toronto isn’t in the NWSL by the time it is built and the woman’s league is up and running and shown to be viable, MLSE will be much more willing to join. Failing that, enough time will have passed for different potential Toronto bids to come together. A Toronto team will be in this league, I just don’t think a Toronto team will be one of the inaugural teams.
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